An Empty Saddle to Fill

Author: Anoriath

Nominator: Anoriath

2006 Award Category: Races: Men: Vignette - Third Place

Story Type: Other Fiction  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: PG-13  ✧  Reason for Rating: Adult themes

Summary: Of Theodred and Eowyn

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Reviewed by: annmarwalk  ✧  Score: 9

First of all, I love the way you’ve given Théodred a bard’s voice, all rich and rolling and singing with poetry, even in his own mind as he ponders his future. [Keen is the edge of my knife and sharp is the song the steel sings for me as I skim the stone along its length]. I particularly like the way you’ve demonstrated his relationship with Éowyn. At first, it seems like the typical, courtly behavior as he ponders her loveliness and grace; that changes for us very abruptly with the mock attack and defense, and Théodred’s shocked and sobering realization that Eowyn not only has remained diligent in practicing what she has been taught, but also feels herself in need of self-defense skills. This story makes me realize that, in my own writing, I have neglected to explore the relationship between Théodred and Éowyn: I’m afraid my Théodred comes across as quite self-absorbed compared to yours! But your story illustrates well the depth of devotion between them; Théodred’s determination to raise and train her and trust her to be Théoden’s defense when Théodred is absent. Your last lines give me the shivers every time I read them : that even if Grima somehow manages to capture Eowyn as his own, he will never rest securely – she will ever be waiting her opportunity to avenge the House of Éorl.

Reviewed by: Perelleth  ✧  Score: 7

This vignette gains its full weight with the quotes from UT at the beginning. Theodred's death is a sad, yet most understated effects of Saruman's machinations. His bookverse death is far more impressive (of course) than movieverse. He knew he had been ambushed and he asked to be left there to die on the field, wishing to protect the Ford with his death.He must have felt that all was in vain and that all he had fighted for and was due to potect would be lost to darkness. Life in the Riddermark few years prior to the return of the King to Gondor must have been quite desperate, and surely Theodred must have been a stalwart support for his two younger cousins, even if he felt the hopelessness of it all. It is heartrending to feel his impotence, despite his anger, even as a grown-up, battle hardened warrior, and the King's heir, before the subtle machinations of the worm, (Saruman's) but yet he's determined to protect his fair cousin even beyond death... A sad, moving tale of one who did not live to see better days. Nice job!

Reviewed by: EdorasLass  ✧  Score: 7

Such a lovely peek into Theodred's mind. He sounds confident, regal, and proud(as he should), yet his affection for and protectiveness of Eowyn is obvious. I like very much that he's taught her how to handle a blade, and that he takes a kind of pleasure in the fact that she's bested him on this occasion. I'm also a big fan of any time Theodred or Eomer take a moment to consciously realize how frustrating it must be for Eowyn to be left behind while they go ride off to protect king and country. I really like how the nicely familial feel to the scene instantly turns into something far more menacing when Grima appears. Now Theodred bristles with anger, and the tension of both he and his cousin is nearly palpable. There's the hint that they might both shatter at any moment, and Theodred's protectiveness and anger are wonderfully in character. Very nicely done, and a great look at the relationship between Theodred and Eowyn.

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 6

Eowyn and Theodred exchange so few words, and yet I was left feeling that I understood volumes about their relationship. The language of the story was as rolling, poetic and melodious as we are always told the language of Rohan is supposed to be. I was caught by surprise during the feinted attack and defense, and the incident and its aftermath spoke much of both the concern and esteem with which Theodred holds his cousin. The characters are very well-developed here: Eowyn as strong, beautiful and sharp as steel; Theodred perceptive, protective, doing what he can to stem the evil taking root in his land - a true king's son. The dark atmosphere pervading Edoras is captured perfectly, and the dialogue was sharp and telling. I loved Theodred's connections with Eorl, and how even if Eowyn is the last of that house, she will uphold its honor and take revenge for its demise.

Reviewed by: Marigold  ✧  Score: 5

Theodred's voice here is very rich and intense. This vignette gave me lot to think upon in regard to his relationship with Eowyn; he obviously loved her very much, and understood that they were both warriors fighting battles in different ways. Though she certainly has some skill with a blade as well, largely thanks to him. Eowyn was well written and Wormtongue was wonderfully creepy! I liked Theodred's thought that Eowyn would make short work of him in the marriage bed, should such an awful thing come to pass. I agree; he wouldn't last the first night!

Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea  ✧  Score: 4

Delightful irony in Theodred's last thoughts. The depiction of his impromptu sparring match with Eowyn was very well done. There is an air of suspicion and foreboding over the entire piece, though Eowyn herself, as seen through her cousin's eyes, is a beacon of hope. Poor Theodred-one definitely gets the idea he has some foreboding of the fate that lies in store for him.

Reviewed by: Rhapsody  ✧  Score: 4

This vignette gave me the chills. Theodred observes everything from his sick bed: his voice is strong and confident and he is not fooled by what is truly going on. His observations sound true to how I perceived him and the way he describes Éowyn is simply beautifully written. It makes me sad that a Rohirrim like him will die at the hands of Gríma and only his deceitful poison can bring down a man this strong! The word use is great and gave this piece a Rohirrim feel all the way!

Reviewed by: Gandalfs apprentice  ✧  Score: 3

A very emotionally wrought vignette. The author's language is lush and poetic, intensively felt. I really believed at the end that Theodred's ghost would have avenged Eowyn, if it had proved necessary. My only complaint would be that it is too short.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

Theodred's POV as he ponders his cousin Eowyn and all that they are having to deal with in the dark days of Wormtongue's sway is rendered in language very like that of JRRT's own. A nice bite to the ending, as well.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 2

Wonderfully elegiac yet spare prose; good choice of vocabulary. Told in a manner which seems particularly suited for a story set in Rohan.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 2

This one gave me shivers. You tell the quiet power and strenth of will very well here, of both Eowyn and Theodred.